It is all right. I say, Mr. Speaker, that any representative from the prairie provinces who at the promised conference this summer between the Dominion
and the provinces will agree to anything that is likely to endanger the right of reference to the Privy Council will not be expressing the wishes of his people. I aim expressing to-night the feeling of the majority of the people of Saskatchewan when I say that as far as that province is concerned we shall be just as willing to be governed from Downing street as from St. James street, Montreal, or King street, Toronto.
No decision would ever have emanated from the Imperial conference unless it was reached unanimously, and if the conference has done anything to clarify our status it has done so only because of the freedom and equality of every unit of the great British commonwealth of nations. Canada is a replica almost of the British Empire, and this confederation cannot be held together unless by the equality of status and freedom of every unit. I believe the spirit that underlay the idea of confederation was that the Dominion parliament should be what the provinces choose to make it. But it has become an imperialistic dictator in its attitude to the provinces, which are, or should be, autonomous parts within the confederation. I repeat, Sir, I am glad the Minister of Justice has laid it down as a ruling principle that the constitution cannot be amended but by the consent of the provinces.
When the hon. member for Labelle so fervently denounced British imperialism I recalled the speech he made at the beginning of last session. It is well to consider this question in the light of practical politics and history. On page 1686 of Hansard the hon. member accuses Britain of being the cause of the Great war. I do not know why he should have gone out of his way to so accuse Britain, but he did. Now, I think he is not only unfair, but it seems to me that he purposely overlooks several factors which resulted in that world catastrophe. The chief reason no doubt was trade and that ambition to dominate with imperialistic control which was held by some of the nations; and for either of those Germany was not wholly to blame. In my opinion Canada did her share to bring about that great world catastrophe, in fact I do not know that Canada is not as directly responsible for the great world war as any nation on earth. I believe to-day that the British preference which we inserted in our tariff was the cause of a great deal of enmity , and had much to do with the Great war. Of course, outside of that cause there was the overpowering ambition of France to regain her lost provinces. But let us recall an historical fact within the memory of most
members of this House. France and Russia formed an alliance for offensive and defensive purposes; France even boasted that she would make Germany pay for her three-year military service, and Russia on the one side and France on the other kept raising a tariff wall against Germany. When we inaugurated the British preference Germany begged to be included in that scheme in some way, finding that Britain was her best customer, but it was two-facedly said in this House at the time that Germany was seeking to bring about a cleavage between Britain and her colonies. I say to-night, Mr. Speaker, that had we been agreeable to that proposal there would have been formed in the world at that time a real free trade union, and the faces of the nations would have been turned toward peace instead of toward war. It was not the fault of Britain, but it must be admitted that a fair share of that fault lies at the door of this Dominion, because by the greed and avarice of our Canadian imperialists, who sought to obtain for themselves not only the direction of the forces of wealth and industry in this Dominion, but the direction of the terms of living of the rest of the nation. This they did without regard to the rights of those parts of our country with fewer representatives in this House.
In conclusion I want to say that freedom is the very essence of loyalty, and that this Dominion can be a confederation in the real sense of the term only as every part of it is as free as is set forth in the declaration of the Imperial conference, under which we are declared a free nation within the British Empire. Our confederation must be built upon that freedom.
On motion of Mr. Bennett the debate was adj ourned.
On motion of Mr. Mackenzie King the House adjourned at 11.08 p.m.
Friday, April 1, 1927